You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Latin’ category.

Paichẽ is a prehistoric Amazonian fish which you can taste in Marina Del Rey, while promoting its sustainability in the Amazon. As a Southern Californian diner eating at a Peruvian Izakaya, you are also part taking part in a fusion of cultures and cuisines. Welcome to culinary globalization in Los Angeles.

On the ground floor of the MDR Hotel, Paichẽ is a comfortable modern space with a sleek clean feel. There is the center seating area which becomes quite animated when full. They’ve only been open since April, but I’ve heard the place gets packed during prime dinner hours, so make sure you make a reservation if you want to come on a week-end.

A more tranquil side area by the windows which feels more intimate.

With various signature drinks, I asked my waitress which was the least sweet, most sour, and she suggested the Margarita. I know I can be very boring, but theirs is made with Jimador tequila, house made orange bitters, lime juice, agave nectar, and a pinch of gusano salt for $12. It was one of the best I’ve ever tasted. The unique ingredients elevated this ubiquitous well drink to boutique level. It was also very strong, and I felt the effects for well over an hour even after all the food I ate (I walked over to one of the few remaining brick and mortar Barnes & Noble bookstores to shop and get sober before driving home).

I started with the tiradito (raw or lightly cooked) of seared sea bass with Amazonian sacha inchi oil, soy dressing, garlic, and oba for $9. A fantastic way to begin any meal, with fresh subtle flavors and a light dressing. This was one of my favorite plates. If I ordered five or six plates of this, I would have made this my meal, but the whole point of izakaya is tasting many things, so I tasted several more plates.

The waitress recommend the Paichẽ wrap lettuce, and I could not come here and not taste the anticucho miso marinated grilled Amazonian fish for $12. It was very similar to the sea bass, with a bit more firmness and it held up well to the anticucho miso which gave it a slightly spicy kick. I enjoyed the texture of the fish, lettuce, and crunchy fried topping, and I would recommend this to anyone who says they don’t like fish.

The calamari rellano for $10 is one of those fusion dishes that works perfectly. It’s a baby squid stuffed with morcilla sausage served with aji pepian. This is one of those comfort dishes that doesn’t look like a one; the creamy bed of rice with the morcilla covered in a tender squid wrapping made this a hearty small bite. My only note on this dish was the morcilla sausage had several bites of inedible cartilage, but it was so tasty that I would order this again in spite of that.

Tied for my favorite dish, was the perfectly fried chicarron of pescado for $11 with a lime yuzu sauce. Various pieces of tender fish, crispy on the outside, complimented with a very tangy yuzu sauce (which you really didn’t need, but it was so good you must try at least one bite of the fish with it). A benefit of small plates is that even when ordering something fried, it’s a small portion, so you can enjoy it without too much concern about your arteries. Since I ate all four plates, I skipped dessert, but for those who have room, Paiche does fantastic churros like Picca, its sibling restaurant.

I may never do any “fishing” outside of Marina del Rey’s Paichẽ, but I know when I come here that I will always get to eat great fish 🙂

Paiche on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Sometimes an intention is all that is needed when you head towards a goal. My intention was to eat lunch at a nearby place which served local or organic ingredients in creative and tasty combinations. I’ve been meaning to try Gratitude Cafe and Superba Snack Bar for quite awhile, so I simply parked on Rose and walked around figuring I would choose a place to eat lunch once I got to the area. Superba was closed and Gratitude was just a block too far to walk to in the 90 degree heat.

Serendipitiously, I ended up at Cerveteca. They have a large enclosed patio, so you can enjoy sunny Southern California beach weather even when the beach (six blocks away) is overcast.

This marvelous place serves some of the best Latin inspired food I’ve ever eaten. They use free range chicken, wild caught salmon, and organic mixed greens for their salads, so quality is paramount. The fact that they use handmade tortillas speaks volumes about how much they care about their food. It’s the equivalent of using bakery bread rather than using cellophane wrapped supermarket bread when you are making a sandwich.

Since their Happy Hour lasts from 3-7pm, you can get here earlier for drinks and appetizers before your dinner, or make your dinner from the Happy Hour menu which offers smaller bites of the menu items.

Mama’s ceviche, made with lime cured fish, tomato, cilantro, radish, jicama, mango, and cucumber for $9 at Happy Hour ($16 regularly) is a fresh citrusly medley of ingredients. We added some of the pickled relish from the table to perk it up with some jalapeno, but for those who want no heat, it is good by itself. The accompanying chips are made from the handmade tortillas, so they can be addictive.

Since we couldn’t decide whether to get the barbacoa beef or pulled pork slider, so we got one of each for $6 at Happy Hour ($14 regular). The five spiced beef was the clear winner of the two with a marvelously subtly smokey spice (but not hot) flavor.

The Baja taco was the best fish tacos I’ve ever eaten. Period. For $4 at Happy Hour or $12 (for three) on the regular menu, the beer batter dipped and fried cod with slaw, crema, salsa, and aji sauce was the perfect combination of soft, crunchy, warm, creamy, and  spicy (if you add the sauce served on the side). If anyone you know does not like fish or tacos, I would bet that after a bite of this taco they would change their minds (and I’m not a gambler).

The special of the night was seared Diver scallops on a bed of Romesco sauce with grilled and raw asparagus. The scallops were perfectly seared and slightly under done, so it was almost sashimi. The Romesco sauce added a nice flavor with a counterpoint of creamy texture to the scallops and asparagus. If this is on special when you go and you like scallops, make sure you save room for this dish.

I chose the Herb and Garlic Basted Game Hen for $18, made with achiote, tomato, thyme, rosemary,  arroz ajillo, with a side (I chose the brussel sprouts with bacon), and tortilla. This game hen was one of the best versions I have ever eaten, with the skin and meat both infused with achiote and perfectly roasted. The brussel sprouts had incredible chunks of thick bacon, but it was a bit overwhelmed by the cider finish. The Arroz Ajillo was delightful, with just a hint of flavor that complimented the game hen perfectly.

Serendipity is defined as a “lucky coincidence”; I’m glad my luck was good enough to end up at Cerveteca.

Oscar's Cerveteca on Urbanspoon

It’s one of the most magical times of the year; yes, it’s Dine LA week again! I always try to go to at least one new restaurant and revisit one I have not been to in over a year during the special prix fixe menu promotion. This week the new restaurant of choice was Picca, a Peruvian place specializing in small plates that are meant to be sampled and shared.

Mika, my adventurous eating partner, was so stressed from her 1.25 hour drive she ordered one of the exotic cocktails made with avocado (yes, really, avocado). I can not tell you everything in the drink; she is not a drinker, so she sipped it throughout our meal and said it tasted neither of alcohol nor of avocado, but was slightly tart, smooth and sweet. I opted for a glass of Malbec.

Although we ordered the prix fixe, we were hungry, so we added an order of the eggplant with sweet miso for $8. It was a beautiful presentation with edible flowers, crunchy buttery croutons, and a sweet miso that made the eggplant taste similar to the miso glaze usually used on fish. This was a definitely a happy way start to any meal.

With the Dine LA menu of $34 for three courses, Mika chose the grilled anticucho beet salad with burrata and lemon balsamic dressing. She adores beets and loved this salad.

I always order Spanish Mackerel whenever I see it on a menu, so my choice was the ceviche style version appetizer, made with crunchy garlic chips. The ginger sauce was so delectable, I could have slurped it. My only complaint was that it was a tiny portion because I could have easily made a meal of this dish if the portion was about 4 times bigger.

Mika chose the slow roasted beef short ribs estofado with palares beans and a salsa criolla, as her main course. I tasted the tender beef with the creamy beans, and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a classic comfort dish.

I chose the pan fried Branzino filet served with parihuela sauce and the same pallares beans served with the short rib. The fish was perfectly cooked and the creamy bean accompaniment added a hearty component to this light dish.

Mika preferred her churros plain, even though they came with three dipping sauces, dark chocolate (my favorite), salted caramel, and passionfruit.

The perfect finish to a delightful introduction to Peruvian small plates was the vanilla bean flan, which was served with a salted caramel sauce and edible flowers. It was as smooth and rich as it was visually appealing.

We’ll definitely be back:)

Picca Peru on Urbanspoon

Categories

%d bloggers like this: